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If any one of you had been told some time ago that 
there was to be such a thing as a war which would give the 
Slavs permanent importance in the world, he would prob- 
ably have experienced a rather uncomfortable feeling. I 
confess that that would not surprise me at all, because the 
general attitude of western Europe and of America to- 
ward the Slavs for many generations has been one of little 
understanding and much fear. The Slavs usually have 
been represented as a group of very low civilization and, 
consequently, as a group of nations or tribes which was a 
distinct menace to all civilized nations. Sometimes the 
western neighbors of the Slavs, the Germans, were trying 
to sow discord between Russia, as representing the eastern 
Slavs, and Poland, a member of the western Slav group. 
More often all Slavs were described by the Germans and 
their friends as barbarians against whom the Germans had 
to guard the treasures of European science, art, and polit- 
ical institutions. 

No sooner had the present war broken out than the 
famous German professor Von Harnack reminded Ameri- 
cans of the Slav menace: "But now before my eyes I see 
rising up . . . another culture, a culture of the horde whose 
government is patriarchal, a civilization of the mob which 

* A lecture delivered at the University of California on October 
23, 1917. 


is brought together and held together by despots, the By- 
zantine I must extend it further Mongolian-Muscovite 
culture. ... This culture was not able to bear the light 
of the eighteenth century, still less that of the nineteenth, 
and now, in this twentieth century, it breaks out and 
threatens us this unorganized mob, this mob of Asia ; like 
the sands of the desert it would sweep down over our har- 
vest fields ; . . . our culture, the chief treasure of mankind, 
was in large part, yes, almost wholly, intrusted to three 
peoples : to us, to the Americans, and to the English. . . . 
Two still remain." 1 

I need hardly remind you that this last was a com- 
ment on England's having "dared" to ally herself with 

About the same time two other famous German scholars, 
Eucken (professor of philosophy at Jena) and Haeckel 
(professor of zoology at Jena), issued two appeals in which 
they said : ' ' England fights in behalf of a Slavic, half Asi- 
atic power against Germanism 2 ; . . . Russia . . . wanted to 
raise the Muscovites against the Germans and the Western 
Slavs, and to lead Asia into the field against Europe. " : 
And in the middle of 1915 a manifesto of numerous Ger- 
man professors said again : "... we Germans rose as one 
man, from the highest to the meanest, realizing that we 
must defend not only our external life but also our inner, 
spiritual and moral life in short, defend German and 
European Kultur against barbarian hordes from the 

These words may have had a new meaning to you. To 
us in the east of Europe German opinions expressed in 
such language have been known for centuries. Whenever 
there was a question of extending German power eastward 
there has always been at hand some one ready to invite the 

1 New York Times Current History, I, 199 f . 

2 Ibid., 535. 

3 Ibid., 536. 

4 Ibid., Ill, 163. 

Germans to defend their civilization against eastern bar- 
barians, and to invite the civilized nations of the world to 
help the Germans, or at least not to obstruct them. The 
martyrdom of the Poles in Prussian Poland, that of the 
Bohemians in their native country under Austrian sway 
these were stages in the victorious progress of Germanism 
against Slavic barbarism. 5 

I suppose most of you look at the paper every morning 
to see what is happening in Russia, perhaps with a half 
suppressed wish that the Russian people would postpone 
their ultra-democracy for a short time at least, until Ger- 
many is defeated. But Russia is not the only Slav country. 
There are Slav nations besides her, nations which have con- 
tributed and will contribute to the progress of the world. 
Of many of them you have not heard much. At this moment 
the Prussian eagle and his ally, the old, worn out but ra- 
pacious Austrian bird, hold their booty as tightly as they 
can. Now and again you hear a weak, a very faint cry of 
despair, a cry for help but you hardly pay attention to it. 

5 It must be said in fairness to German scholars that such has 
not always been their general attitude toward Slavs, and toward 
Slav civilization. One of the honorable exceptions will be found 
in the following words of Professor Eoepell of Halle, translated 
from the foreword to his History of Poland (1840): "It is not easy 
for us Germans to comprehend and appreciate impartially the na- 
tional spirit of the Slavs; but by purely denying, by absolutely 
condemning it, as we find rather often done these days, one 
shall certainly not get to the bottom of the thing. Every year that 
group of nations seems to increase in political importance for the 
history of the world, and at the same time a new intellectual life 
has begun to manifest itself at present, and is apparent not less in 
Bohemia, Hungary" (the author meant the Slavs under Hungarian 
rule), "Galicia, and with the Poles, than in Kussia, which in a 
certain way may be considered as the center of all these strivings. 
With all those tribes one can observe a lively, active return to the 
old language, literature, and history of each people; there appears 
a multitude of new periodicals, monuments of songs and chronicles 
are being gathered, history is being searched; in a word, they try 
to give new life to the consciousness of their nationality, where it 
is broken at least to preserve it, and on the other hand to regen- 
erate it, to lead it toward a higher development, by a more active 
interest in the learning and generally the intellectual life of the 
West. ..." That was some five or six decades ago. How much 
progress since! 

And then the hangman steps in over there and everything 
is quiet at least so it seems to ill-informed outsiders. 

You simply had not been given your opportunity of 
learning what those various Slavic nations are. I do not 
want to give you an idealized picture of a wonderful group 
of nations which I should describe to you as Slavs. I do 
not wish to deny that the Slavs have many faults, that they 
are often far from the ideal at which they aim; but I do 
want to say that they are not as uncivilized, not as un- 
worthy of your sympathy, of your cooperation, as some of 
you have been led to believe. For this purpose I shall 
have to make some reference to their history, and to the 
political conditions in which they have lived up to the 
present time. The Slavs are human beings ; they have com- 
mitted and are committing many mistakes, but they want 
to correct them. To err is human. That is true of every 

The war has given you an opportunity of learning about 
the Slavs. We read every day about Russia. The Presi- 
dent of this country many months ago stated, in words which 
make every true Polish heart beat faster, that there must 
be a "united, independent, and autonomous Poland." You 
have all heard of the martyrdom of the Serbians. And 
more and more urgently do the Bohemians appeal to the 
world te help them against Hapsburg oppression. The 
opportunity to learn becomes a duty to learn, for no free 
people can watch leisurely the enslavement of other nations 
without becoming liable to lose its own freedom. And so 
the statesmen of this great nation have assented to the 
postulate of the European Allies that there shall be re- 
construction on the basis of nationality. This must mean, 
among other things, the liberation of the Slavs who are 
now under the German yoke. So the question you have to 
ask yourself is, Is it good to help the Slavs, or is it bad ? 

According to a common theory, very many centuries 
ago the ancestors of those nations which we now call Slavs 
lived in the country now described as Galicia (Austrian 

Poland). Some of them, starting from that original seat, 
went south and occupied what is now Hungary and thence 
went far into the Balkan peninsula. Others went west, far 
beyond the territory in which stands Berlin no Germans 
were there at that time. Still others -went north and 
east. The original Slavs were, of course, not a civilized 
group of tribes. They were barbarians, just as their west- 
ern neighbors, the Germans, were. The Germans occupied 
the Roman Empire, destroyed it, took over some rudiments 
of what they allowed to survive of Roman civilization, and 
at the same time began to press the Slavs back. They sub- 
dued the outlying Slav countries and turned the population 
mostly into slaves. Then a German Roman Empire was 
created, and on its eastern outskirts were formed marches 
with the special object of fighting the Slavs. On the other 
hand, from Scandinavia the Vikings were making their 
way into Russia, while from the east Mongolic invaders, 
Bulgars and Magyars (the modern Hungarians) were at- 
tacking the southern Slavs, the Magyars conquering Hun- 
gary while the Bulgars subdued some of the Balkan Slavs 
(seventh century A.D.). The Magyars extirpated some of 
the Slavs they conquered and turned others into a subject 
population (ninth and tenth centuries A..D.). While those 
unfortunate victims have kept their Slavic tongue, the Mag- 
yars have stuck to their own language, which they still 
speak today. The Bulgars accepted the language of the 
conquered tribes and both groups came finally to form one 
nation partly of Mongolic, partly of Slavic, descent, but 
speaking a Slav tongue. Similar was the history of the 
Vikings in Russia. They organized the country into what 
we might call a political unit (ninth century). The organ- 
ization was Norse, the bulk of the people Slavic, the lan- 
guage of the whole was Slavic Russian. 

The organization of Polish and Bohemian tribes pro- 
ceeded on different lines. Both nations were united by the 
leaders of aboriginal tribes, who had proved the most effi- 
cient organizers in the defense against the Germans, but 


had thereby also acquired enough power to conquer their 
own brethren. Serbian unity was likewise the result of 
what is called "union from wit-bin/' that is, union by native 
organizers, and not by foreigners. 

There is hardly a possibility of exaggerating the im- 
portance of geographical position in the history of those 
early Slavic organizations. If you can picture a map of 
the central and eastern part of Europe, with the Slavs 
occupying all the country from the west of Berlin to the 
east of Moscow, you will perceive that the western group of 
the Slavs was close to Italy, the heart of the Roman Empire, 
while the eastern Slavs were close to Constantinople, the 
capital city of the Eastern Roman Empire. Poles (966 
A.D.), Bohemians, and the western group of the southern 
Slavs (now known as Slovenes and Croats) accepted Chris- 
tianity from Rome, accepted the Roman-Latin alphabet, and 
became western in their civilization. Russia (988 A.D.) 
and the rest of the southern Slavs accepted ultimately, after 
some hesitation, the eastern Christian religion, the Orthodox 
faith as represented by Constantinople; they accepted the 
eastern script (specially adapted to Slavic sounds) and, 
generally speaking, accepted the eastern civilization as it 
existed in the Eastern Empire. 

This was the way in which the group of Slavs, homo- 
geneous at first perhaps, was organized into separate polit- 
ical units, generally divided by differences of religion and 
of civilization, heirs to the quarrel between Rome and Con- 
stantinople. The story of their misfortunes was not at an 
end. It has been their history up to the present moment. 

First of all, in the first half of the thirteenth century 
Poland and Russia were visited by a great calamity in the 
shape of a new wave of Mongolic invaders from the east 
the Tartars. If I wanted to be very cruel to the memory 
of the Tartars, I should be justified in saying that -they 
behaved about as the Germans have now behaved in Bel- 
gium, Poland, and Northern France. You can not imagine 
the measure of destruction they wrought. They destroyed 

the cities across which they came, they carried off men, 
women, and children, and at first it seemed as though there 
were no power on earth strong enough to resist them. 
They had a very efficient military organization and the 
wildness of their attack made all resistance impossible, just 
as if they had unexpectedly let loose clouds of poisonous 
gases. Finally Poland, whom they attacked after having 
converted Russia practically into a desert, collected as many 
forces as she could and after desperate efforts succeeded, 
not in beating the Tartars, but in stopping them. The 
Tartars turned back and went east. But they kept Russia 
in subjection for two centuries, and continued to attack 
Poland even later, one may say down to the eighteenth 
century. It was mainly in order to get rid of their yoke 
that the princes of Moscow, who were their vassals, organ- 
ized despotic rule within their country, and acquired con- 
trol over the other Russian principalities. Finally the 
Tartars ceased to be Russia's overlords, but, once it was 
acquired, the princes of Moscow did not give up their great 
political power. The organization of the country, originally 
very democratic, had been changed into a despotism, under 
the influence of Tartar example, to defeat the Tartars with 
their own weapon that of a strong war machine. I must 
add that the theory of despotism was supplied to the princes 
of Russia, who soon began to style themselves Tsars (from 
Caesar), by Byzantine writers, subservient to the Eastern 

To make good the losses caused by the Tartars, Poland 
allowed German colonists to come in. Germany had not 
been affected by the Tartar invasions, and she never ex- 
perienced any afterwards. Poland, in addition to suffering 
awful devastation at the hands of the Tartars, had to learn 
later on that the German settlers had "taught her civil- 
ization" for that is what the Germans have never ceased 
to claim ! Such was the gratitude of the German colonists. 
In fact, the country had been flourishing before the Tartar 
invasions but what was she to do when hardly a stone 
remained in its place ? 


Then, in the fourteenth century, the Slavs were faced 
by another danger the Turks. The Turks conquered Ser- 
bia and Bulgaria in the course of the fourteenth and fif- 
teenth centuries. Europe was afraid and Poland accepted 
invitations from the west to help. A Polish king, elected 
king of Hungary, went, fought, and perished. The Poles 
continued to fight against the Turks until the Turks, who 
at first had not attacked Poland, turned against her. They 
were deadly enemies indeed. Their invasions lasted 
throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. One 
would have to be a very good orator or a very brilliant 
novelist to do justice to all the romantic deeds which cov- 
ered the arms of Poland with glory. You know only of a 
few incidents (such as the rescue of Vienna by King So- 
bieski in 1683), but the story was a continuous one. When 
Poland herself was in danger she could not count on any 
help from the west. When you are told that the southern 
Slavs have not a very high civilization nowadays, and when 
you hear people talk with contempt of the political insti- 
tutions of Poland why not remember that Serbia was for 
four or five centuries a conquered province in the hands of 
the Turk, and that Poland was for four or five centuries a 
camp of defenders not only of that unfortunate country 
but of western civilization as a whole ? In sowing their land 
the Polish farmers were never sure that after a month, 
perhaps after a fortnight, the house would still stand un- 
burned, that a single soul would remain alive. A short 
war produces far-reaching results in the life of a country 
how much more so a war which lasts for centuries ! 

And the Tartars, the Turks, were not the only enemies. 
The Germans from the west were pressing harder and 
harder. At first themselves nothing but barbarous hordes, 
they had extirpated the -Slavs who were living on the Elbe 
(the so-called Polab Slavs), and attacked those who lived 
farther east. The countries now known as the Mecklen- 
burgs, Pomerania, and Saxony were among the early victims. 
In the meantime the Germans had come to regard themselves 


as a civilized group, as defenders of Christianity, and their 
wars on the Slavs were then waged in the name of Chris- 
tianity and civilization. Bohemia became Christian (ninth 
century) ; Poland, probably through the influence of Bo- 
hemia, became Christian (966 A.D.) ; but the fighting went 
on. At first it was done by the emperors themselves or by 
some margraves whom they had authorized. Later on, the 
Teutonic Knights, an order of fighting monks whom a Pol- 
ish prince had allowed to settle (first half of the thirteenth 
century) in the northern part of Poland, now known as 
East Prussia, took over the "mission". They waged wars 
with a cruelty which could hardly be surpassed. By a 
supreme effort Poland, united with Lithuania, defeated 
them in the memorable battle of Grunwald and Tannenberg 
(1410). Afterward they still continued their gruesome 
expeditions, but finally had to become (as a secularized 
duchy) a vassal state of Poland (1525). They threw off 
allegiance to Poland in the seventeenth century, and in the 
eighteenth century the "King of Prussia" (a new title 
assumed in 1701 by the Duke of Prussia, whose predecessor 
had been the last Grand Master of the Knights and had 
secularized the order) was one of the chief participants in 
the partitions of Poland. 

1526 the Bohemian diet elected a German, a Haps- 
burg ruler of Austria, to the Bohemian throne. Very soon 
the new rulers started out to curtail the privileges of the 
country, the political life of which was very active. The 
throne remained elective, but in 1620, when the Bohem- 
ians tried to shake off the yoke, the battle of the White 
Mountain put an end to Bohemian freedom for over two 
centuries. Most of the nobility perished either in battle or 
on the scaffold, a ruthless reaction set in, and it was not 
until the political troubles of the Hapsburgs in the nine- 
teenth century that Bohemia was allowed to breathe a little 
more freely, though she is still pining for real liberty in 
the civilized sense of the word. 

Since the time of Peter the Great (the beginning of the 

eighteenth century) the influence of Germans in Russia 
had been growing. The German element was gaining pre- 
dominance in the bureaucracy, marriages with German 
princes and princesses were contracted by members of the 
dynasty; in the eighteenth century the male line of the 
house of Romanov (which had been on the throne since 
1613) died out, and by the marriage of a Romanov heiress 
with a member of the Oldenburg dynasty the house of 
Holstein-Gottorp, a new dynasty, a German one, came to 
the throne in 1762. Thus the last Tsar of Russia, Nicolas 
II, was in the male line not a Romanov, but a Holstein- 
Gottorp. It will be unnecessary to remind you, moreover, 
that Catharine II was a German woman, who had married 
a Holstein-Gottorp Tsar. 

The German Catharine II, the German Frederick II, 
and the German Maria Theresa of Austria were the three 
potentates who in 1772 began the partitions of Poland. 
Only eighty-nine years had elapsed since Sobieski, king 
of Poland, had saved Vienna from the Turks ! Prussia and 
Austria united with the ruler of Russia that country 
with the " culture of the horde," with the "civilization 
of the mob which is brought together and held together by 
despots, ' ' as Professor von Harnack tried to explain to you 
in the beginning of this war. Prussia and Austria did not 
shrink from an alliance with Russia, and intended to put 
an end to the political existence of Poland, a country of 
western Slavs with an entirely western civilization. It was 
not until 1914 that German professors discovered that one 
should not "raise the Muscovites against . . . the western 
Slavs, and . . . lead Asia into the field against Europe." 
The explanation is simple. For the purpose of the parti- 
tions of Poland it was in the interest of Prussia to ally 
herself with Russia ; so an alliance with Russia was right. 
In 1914rftlussia wanted to get American condemnation of 
England ; so an alliance with Russia was wrong. 

It is sometimes claimed that the partitions of Poland 
were necessary because of Polish "anarchy." Can any one 


imagine a worse anarchy than that which existed for cen- 
turies in the territory called the Holy Roman Empire of the 
German nation? The partitions of Poland were a matter 
of brute force and nothing else. 6 . 

And the partitions of Poland were not the last instance 
of a German appeal for Russian help. Prussia and Austria 
were not ashamed to fight side by, side with Russia against 
Napoleon. Prussia was not ashamed to help Russia 
against the Poles in their revolutions of 1830-1 and 
1863. 7 And the Hapsburgs were not ashamed to accept 
the help of Russia against the Hungarian insurgents of 
1848-9. At that time it was to the Russian commander 
and not to the Austrians that the Hungarians had to sur- 
render. And that "friendship" for Russia, or, in other 
words, that habit of helping the Tsar and his government 
and receiving help from them whenever there threatened 
some democratic movement for emancipation, for instance, 
some strenuous Polish efforts, continued until the very be- 
ginning of the present war. How else can you explain the 
following passage in a telegram which the German Em- 
peror sent to the late Tsar, Nicolas II, on July 31, 1914: 
"The friendship for you and your country, bequeathed to 
me by my grandfather on his deathbed, has always been 
sacred to me, and I have stood faithfully by Russia while 
it was in serious affliction, especially during its last war?" 

6 See the speech by C. J. Fox on February 18, 1793, Hansard's 
Parliamentary History, XXX, 428 ff. The speech is illuminating 
if one wants to understand Prussian behavior during and before 
the present war. 

7 See, e.g., Die PolitiscJien Eeden des Fiirsten von BismarcJc, II, 
114 ff., lllff. 

s "German White Book," Introduction. Cf. ibid., exhibit 20. It 
is worth while to note that late in March, 1917, the German Imperial 
Chancellor is said to have "referred to Germany's attitude toward 
recent events in Russia and recalled the honored friendship between the 
two countries in former times. He said, however, that this friendship 
ended with the death of Alexander II" (New York Times, March 30, 
1917, p. 1, col. 8). Now, Alexander II died in 1881, and William II 's 
grandfather lay on his deathbed in 1888. How could he bequeath 
to his grandson a friendship which, the Chancellor now claims, had 
terminated seven years before? And how could the present Em- 
peror regard that long extinct friendship as sacred? 


This refers to the affliction of the dynasty during the 
Kusso- Japanese war; the German Emperor obviously had 
not given military assistance against the Japanese, for he 
was neutral ! We in eastern Europe, however, have known 
all the time that German helped Kussia in putting down the 
revolution. Moreover, is it not interesting to read those 
professions of long-standing friendship, made two weeks 
before the German professors started their thundering exe- 
crations of a "civilization of the mob which is brought 
together and held together by despots, the . . . Mongolian- 
Muscovite culture, ' ' etc. ? 

Ethnographically 9 the Slavs at present can be divided 
into four big groups. The eastern or Russian group is 
composed of three elements: the Great Russian (north and 
center), the "White Russian (west), and the Little Russian 
(also called Ruthene, a name appearing in Latin in the 
fourteenth century) or Ukrainian (the Ukraine, or "Bor- 
derland," is a southern part of modern" Russia). It is not 
easy to determine with the help of the statistics available 
how many millions of the Russian population are Little Rus- 
sian rather than Great Russian. The former, however, can 
be estimated broadly at some twenty-five to thirty million. 
For a long time there has been a violent dispute, mostly 
literary but in places political, whether the Little Russians 
form a separate nation (as some of them claim) or whether 
their language is only a dialect of the Russian language and 

o The following figures are intended to show approximately the 
present distribution of Slavic nations among political units and 
their proportion to the German and Magyar element in Austria- 
Hungary. It is impossible to obtain absolutely reliable statistics. 

1. Serbia, about 5,000,000. 

2. Montenegro, about 500,000 (almost all Serbs). 

3. Bulgaria, about 5,000,000. 

4. Eussian Empire, about 180,000,000: Great Eussians, 80,000,- 
000; White Eussians, 8,000,000; Euthjenes (Little Eussians), 25,000,- 
000; Poles, 12,000,000. 

5. Poles: Austria, 5,000,000; Hungary, 100,000; Germany, 4,000,- 
000. Czechs and Slovaks: Austria, 6,500,000; Hungary, 2,050,000; 
Germany, 130,000. Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes: Austria, 2,036,000; 
Hungary, 2,939,000; Bosnia, 1,800,000. Euthenes: Austria, 3,600,000; 
Hungary, 475,000. Germans: Austria, 10,000,000; Hungary, 2,050,000. 
Magyars: Austria, 11,000; Hungary, 10,050,000. 


their national customs only those of one part of the great 
Russian nation. Without expressing any opinion on the 
main question, I wish to say that the leaders of the Ukraine 

q R El A T 

L I T T L E. 


Map 1 The Slavs and their neighbors. 

The map shows those parts of central and eastern Europe in which the 
Slavs form at least the majority of the population. In the adjoining districts 
Slavs form more or less strong minorities. 

movement (not the Little Russian people), especially in 
Galicia, have often taken an anti-Russian and pro-German 
point of view.. That was true even long before the war. 
Their language differs from Great Russian in many details 
(the accent is sometimes different ; the script is modified and 
spelling is phonetic, whereas in great Russian it is etymolog- 


ical; there are differences in pronunciation; for instance, 
Great Russian has almost always a g where Little Russian 
has an h ; the accent is often differently placed ; many Great 
Russian words are replaced by others of Polish origin). 
The Russians .are mostly Orthodox, but some millions of 
Little and White Russians are Catholic, either with the pure 
Latin rite or with a peculiar rite in which Church-Slavic 
is used ; in the latter case their hierarchy has certain special 
privileges recognized by Rome; for example, there is a 
possibility of conferring the order of priesthood on married 
persons. The Provisional Government of Russia has lately 
recognized the claim of Little Russians to autonomy, and 
has granted autonomy to the "governments" (administra- 
tive provinces) of Kiev, Volhynia, Podolia, Tshernikhov, 
and to all other provinces in which the zemstvos demand it. 

The Poles are mostly Roman Catholics, though there are 
Protestants and Jews. The Poles, whose civilization is 
entirely western, use the Latin alphabet, and the language 
contains both h and g ; the accent in all words with more 
than one syllable falls on the last but one. The Germans 
have been trying to distinguish between Poles proper and 
the Mazurs and Kaszubs, in order to lessen in their 
statistics the number of Poles in the Polish provinces of 
the empire. The distinction is similar to one that might 
be made between the language of the United States and 
that of the Kentucky mountains. 

The Bohemian group includes not only the Bohemians 
and the Moravians (another name for the Bohemian, or 
Czech, inhabitants of Moravia) but also the Slovaks of 
northern Hungary. Some of the most important Bohemian 
leaders, such as the famous gafarik, were Slovaks. The Bo- 
hemians are almost exclusively Roman Catholic. They use 
the western alphabet ; the accent in their words always falls 
on the first syllable and an h is always found where in 
Russian there is a g. 

The southern Slavs have long been divided in religion 
and in the use of alphabet. The Serbs and Croats speak 

the same language ; but while some of them are Moham- 
medan, the rest of the Serbs are. mainly Orthodox and use 
the eastern script; the Croats are Catholic and use the 
western script. The latter they share with the Slovenes, 
whose language is a dialect of the Serbo-Croat language 
and whose religion is Catholic. The differences of religion 
have long been the favorite means by which the Hapsburgs 
have been trying to separate the three representatives of 
the southern Slav family. Recently the representatives of 
those three groups met on the island of Corfu and adopted 
a programme of political union and freedom, for which they 
crave the endorsement of the civilized world. Their position 
in politics and law is now deplorable as is that of all the 
other Slavs. 

It is only the eastern group of Slavs that has for some 
time formed a political unit, the Russian Empire, even so 
under the rule of a German and pro-German dynasty and 
bureaucracy. Suffice it to say that in Russian Poland, 
Germans enjoyed much more influence with the government 
than the Poles ! Of the whole eastern group, only some 
four million Ruthenes live partly under Austrian, partly 
under Hungarian, domination. 

The Poles are, on the other hand, in a most unfortu- 
nate position. A proud nation which once was among the 
most powerful in Europe is now divided into three parts 
one under Russian, the other under Austrian, the third 
under Prussian domination. In the Austrian "share" of 
Poland is included not only Galicia but also part of Silesia. 
That part of Poland under German rule comprises not 
only the Prussian province of "Posen," but also Prussian 
Silesia (the eastern part of which is overwhelmingly Polish ; 
the coal mines situated there are the chief reason why Ger- 
many dreads its loss) ; West Prussia ; with the city of 
Gdansk (Dantzick), which at the time of the partitions 
violently opposed Prussian occupation 10 and for a long 
time previously had favored the nationalist element in 

10 See, e.g., Lord, The Second Partition of Poland, 394. 


Poland (for instance, at the elections of Polish kings) ; and 
parts of the province of East Prussia. 

Almost the whole territory of which the Bohemians are 
natives is now under the rule of Austria and (Slovaks) of 

(Great, White, Little) 

Poles. WW-fflfa Bohemians 

S^"^ ,. KWfm and Slovaks. 

r- t Southern Slavs (Slovenes, 

^="-=1 Serbs, Croats) llllllllHillil Bulgarians. 

Territories with Slavic majority. 

Map 2 Slavic territories in European states (1914). 
.. borders between states. 

border between Austria, Hungary, and Bosnia-Herz- 

borders between nationalities within the same state 
(not between states). 


The southern Slavs in the broader sense of the word 
include the semi-Slavic Bulgarians, who in the nineteenth 
and twentieth centuries were emancipated from the Turkish 
yoke; and the southern Slavs proper, of whose number 
only those Serbs living in the country known as Monte- 
negro have practically always been independent of Turkey. 
The kingdom of Serbia was emancipated in the course of 
the nineteenth century; Bosnia and Herzegovina passed 
from the Turkish under the Austro-Hungarian yoke ("oc- 
cupation" 1878, "annexation" 1908) ; part of Serbian ter- 
ritory forms the kingdom of Croatia and Slavonia (under 
Hungarian domination) ; another part is incorporated in 
the kingdom of Hungary itself; still other Serbo-Croat 
lands, as well as those of the Slovenes, are organized as 
provinces of what is popularly called Austria, or the Aus- 
trian part of the Hapsburg monarchy. In most cases the 
Slovenes are inhabitants of provinces of which another part 
is German or Italian, so that the Hapsburgs can foster 
national differences and prevent an understanding between 
the subject races, or can rely on the German as against the 
Slavic element. 

In all those countries where the Slavs are not left 
to themselves there has been boundless oppression. How 
could I within a few seconds describe to you all the un- 
speakable horrors of the Austrian regime in Bohemia, in 
Galicia, among the southern Slavs before the Hapsburg 
organization went to pieces in the wars with Italy, France, 
and Prussia, and a "constitutional regime" had to be in- 
augurated (in the sixties of the nineteenth century) ? How 
am I to mention to you in a short time all the breaches of 
solemn promises, of statutes, of constitutional documents 
which have repeatedly been committed since then? Can 
you picture the tragedy of the present war, in which (un- 
like the English rule in Ireland, where there is no com- 
pulsory military service) Austria has drawn the main body 
of her armies from the Slavic conscripts and Germany has 
compelled her (conscripted) Polish regiments to fight 


against those from whom Poland expects her liberty ? Oh. 
there can indeed be no greater grief! Nessun maggior 
dolore. . . . 

But I have been speaking of the Slavs in a way which 
might lead you to ask whether there is a common Slav group 
consciousness. From the time of the national separation 
of the different groups such a common consciousness be- 
tween all groups has hardly existed. Difficulties of com- 
munication, differences of religion, of civilization, of polit- 
ical interests, separated the Slav groups. In the eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries two tendencies became apparent, 
both of them called "Pan-Slavic." You should be careful 
to distinguish between them. 

One was the purely political dream of Orthodox Tsar- 
dom and its supporters. It was the dream of uniting all 
Slavs under .Russia's leadership, probably with Orthodoxy 
as their religion. The other tendency was one which has 
received more or less qualified assent in all Slavic groups. 
It is based on the consciousness of a common origin, of 
common roots in the different Slavic languages, of a need 
of common defense against common enemies, whether Turks 
or Germans; it aims at securing for the Slavs recognition 
as fully privileged members of the community of nations. 
Why should the English, German, French, and Italian lan- 
guages be the only ones admissible in international con- 
gresses, to the exclusion of Russian and Polish? Why 
should the Slavs remain unknown, detested, slandered, 
barely tolerated whenever the history of civilization is dis- 
cussed ? Why should the civilized world endorse or silently 
overlook their martyrdom at the hands of Germany and 
Austria-Hungary? These and similar questions have led 
to the formation of different Slav societies of mutual help, 
to the organization of Slav congresses, and so forth. Would 
that there should result from this war a permanent feder- 
ation of the Slavs, and their federation with the other 
civilized nations into a federation of the world! 

The other civilized nations ? But are the Slavs civilized ? 
What have they done for civilization ? 

I should like to remind you again of the difficulties of 
development. Here was Russia, for more than two cen- 
turies under the overlordship of the Tartars. That was a 
circumstance certainly not intended to help promote civil- 
ization. The consequences of the Tartar period naturally 
lived much longer than Tartar domination itself. There 
was Serbia, under Turkish rule until the nineteenth cen- 
tury. The Germans seem to object to Great Britain 's action 
in introducing Hindu troops into the war. And yet I claim 
that if a power could do anything to destroy its own claims 
to civilization, that would be an alliance with the Turks, 
the old enemies of European civilization, the old assailants 
of Christendom. It is not many centuries since Austria 
had to be defended by the Poles against Turkey now 
Austria, Germany, and Turkey (with another semi-Mongolic 
group, the Bulgars) are happily united in an alliance 
against the civilized world. Perhaps one should not wonder 
at that, seeing what the record of the Hapsburgs them- 
selves has been. For there, again, was Bohemia, with her 
old liberties trampled under foot, with her best children 
literally mowed down, for two and a half centuries a 
helpless victim in the hands of her Hapsburg rulers. 

And to remind you of still further difficulties, there 
was Poland, constantly struggling, now with the Tartars, 
now with the Turks. The downfall of the Polish cities, 
especially in the east, was due very largely to the establish- 
ment of Turkish rule in Constantinople (1453) and on the 
shores of the Black Sea, but Poland's fight against the 
Turks, the expedition of the Polish (and Hungarian) king 
in 1444 which resulted in his death, and the rescue of 
Vienna by Sobieski, were only episodes in a long series of 
struggles undertaken at first, and very often later on, out 
of pure idealism, out of a desire to rid civilization of the 
Turkish menace. Nevertheless, Poland had at the same time 
to defend herself against the Germans on her western 


border : at first it was the newly created Empire, then the 
Teutonic Knights, also called Knights of the Cross (their 
sign, the Black Cross which they wore on their white gowns, 
is still a symbol of German militarism, and appears, for 
instance, on the German airplanes). And then for the 
Knights of the Crosyvas substituted (a change in name, 
but not in spirit) the*Russian state, which was instrumental 
in bringing about the partitions of Poland in the end of the 
eighteenth century. Since those days there has been op- 
pression by the three partitioning powers, at first by Austria 
and Prussia more than by Russia, then especially by Austria, 
then by Austria and Russia more than by Prussia, and then 
by Prussia more than by any other. Prussia has not only 
oppressed the Poles in the parts of Poland which she occu- 
pies. She has also backed Aip Russia, down to the outbreak 
of the present war. And this "friendship" for the Tsar's 
government has been another difficulty in the way of Slav 

Despite all these difficulties* the Slavs have helped civil- 
ization. They have helped it, first of all, by defending it, 
as well as defending their own homesteads, against Tartars 
and Turks. That was true especially of Russia and Poland ; 
Serbia was a great, heroic victim of the Turkish onslaught 
in the fourteenth century, as she has become one of the 
victims of the Teutonic onslaught in the twentieth century. 
But the Slavs have also helped to develop European civil- 
ization positively. 

It is not claimed by any sensible person that the Slavs 
are not indebted to other nations and groups of nations. 
The Slavs have taken over western and eastern civilization, 
that of Rome and that. of Byzantium, just as Rome was 
indebted to Greece, and France and England to Italy. Nor 
do the Slavs claim that they have not learned from the 
Germans. They have. 

But this is no reason why the Germans should claim 
that they are entitled to dominate the Slavs. Because the 
Slavs have been received later into the circle of European 

nations, it does not follow that they must submit to German 
domination, that they have no right to a free development. 
Did not the Germans, as a group of barbarous tribes, at- 
tack, molest, destroy the old Roman Empire? Did they 
not take over the fruits of the development of civilization 
in ancient Rome and in medieval Italy? Are they not 
most heavily indebted to the civilization of France and of 
England ? Why do they not submit to Italy, or to France, 
or to England ? Because you are some one 's teacher, this 
does not make you his master, it does not turn him into 
a slave of yours. To promote civilization is every nation's 
duty, but it does not give rights of overlordship ; that is 
what the Germans have never been able to understand. 11 

11 Just twenty years ago the famous German historian, Theodor 
Mommsen, issued an appeal to the Germans in Austria, inciting 
them to a fight against the (western) Slavs (which meant especially. 
Bohemians, Slovenes, and Poles). He drew forth a spirited reply 
from one of the most glorious scholars in modern Slavdom, my be- 
loved teacher Oswald Balzer, professor of Polish legal history in 
the University of Lwow. From that reply, to which all friends 
of Slavdom can refer for inspiration, I should like to quote a few 
sentences, which seem in point at this time and can as well be 
applied to the relations between Germany and the western nations: 
". . . To a great part of the German peoples the interests of cul- 
ture have always been associated with the State interest, i.e., the 
State interest has been in the first place. They carried civilization 
to the Slavic East to gain for themselves political advantages, and 
they did not hesitate to give up the cause of culture whenever their 
own egotistic political interests required some sacrifice. Politi- 
cians and Germanizers, in a higher degree than civilizers, they 
have perpetually identified the idea of culture with the idea of 
their own State and their own nationality; they believed and wished 
to persuade the world they even wanted the world to believe them 
that the way to civilization leads only through Germany, and that 
there can be no better fortune for other peoples than to attain by 
that way to greater perfection. They proclaimed themselves chosen 
guardians of all who began to engage in the pursuits of culture 
later than themselves, without asking whether those others desired 
such guardianship, without reflecting that they could work for 
culture independently, having been endowed by God with the same 
abilities as Germans. . . . The Germans offered culture to the Slavs 
usually at the price of their giving up the greatest treasure, their 
own nationality; where the Slavs would not pay that price, the 
Germans simply obstructed their independent development and did 
not allow them to carry on the work of civilization. . . . German 
culture is neither the first, nor the last, nor the only culture which 
leads to perfection. ..." To many persons unacquainted with 

It is claimed against the Slavs that they are nothing 
but barbarians. Sometimes the Germans do not go as far 
as all that. But then they and their foreign friends (e.g., 
Professor Burgess) claim that the Slavs are unfit for polit- 
ical development. I should like to point out that of all 
European nations, Germany has the least right to reproach 
others with lack of political ability. Can anybody imagine 
a greater anarchy than that which existed in Germany in 
the later Middle Ages and well into the nineteenth century ? 
Poland's and Russia's disorganization was due largely to 
foreign invasions. Germany's princes often combined 
among themselves or with foreign princes against their own 
emperor. It was not until 1870-1 that Germany, under 
the new leadership of Prussia, began to show real political 
unity and whether the Prussian domination of Germany 
has been a success is just now a somewhat debatable ques- 
tion. Nor is there any need to brag about the German 
descent of the Romanovs (as is done, e.g., by Professor 
Burgess). Whether Russia would not have been much 
happier without them is again a question to be determined 
by impartial men. 

It is claimed that the Slavs are unable to develop a 
healthy economic organization. Anybody who has studied 
Bohemian economic life under Hapsburg rule, or the Polish 
economic development, will have formed a different opinion. 
The Germans themselves know the truth about the matter. 
In a number of publications they exhort one another to 
arm themselves against the danger of an economic conquest 
by the Slavs. 12 The Polish cooperative societies, especially 

European affairs these words would have meant nothing until the 
present war taught everybody what German methods are. The 
words of Professor Balzer, written in 1897, could equally well have 
been formulated by an observer of German behavior during the 
present war. There is method in it. 

12 Professor Ludwig Bernhard, who did some spying among 
Polish economic organizations in Prussian Poland for the benefit 
of the Prussian government, and was rewarded with a chair at 
the University of Berlin, devotes a large book to ''the Polish com- 
munity in the Prussian State" (Das polnisclie Gemeinwesen im 
preussischen Staate} ; Mr. Georg Cleinow in his book on ' ' The 


among farmers, can well serve as an example for many 
western countries and you must remember that they have 
been developed in the teeth of government opposition. 

The Slavs have made positive contributions to the civil- 
ization of the world. Until the Turkish conquest, Serbia 
was developing in a most promising way. In the field of 
literature she can claim that her ballads (some of them 
translated recently by my friends, Professor George R. 
Noyes and Mr. Leonard Bacon) deserve a high place among 
monuments of European popular poetry. In the fourteenth 
century her political development was higher than that of 
many a European nation, for instance, the code of Tsar 
Dushan deserves an honorable place among early Euro- 
pean codifications. And look at Bohemia ! In 1347-8 there 
was founded in Prague, the capital, by a king who was not 
a German, a university, which was the first in central 
Europe. Germany had no university at that time. The 
second university in central Europe was that of Cracow 
(Poland, 1364), and only the third was the German uni- 
versity of Vienna (1365). Then were founded other uni- 
versities in Germany. The University of Prague soon be- 
came the center of Bohemian national progress, its rector 
early in the fifteenth century was the celebrated reformer 
and Bohemian patriot, Jan Huss; is not his name known 
to every civilized man and woman ? Does it not prove that, 
while she was left independent, Bohemia was able to pro- 
duce great men? And then, in the seventeenth century, 
came the great Bohemian reformer of education, known all 
over Europe, Komensky (Comenius). There had been 
many great men in the meantime, but I can only mention 

Future of Poland" (Die Zukunft Polens} studies the conditions in 
Eussian Poland; there are numerous other books on the subject. 
The German chancellor, Prince von Billow, said in 1908: "The Polish 
element has, under the protection of our statutes, especially in the 
field of economics developed an organization which is astonishing 
because of its consistent elaboration and concentrated leadership 
(deren konsequente Durchfiilirunfj und einheitliclie Leitung erstaunHch 
isf), and of which the great power serves always and everywhere 
the purposes of the political struggle against the German element 
..." (Hb'trsch, Filrst ron Billow's Eeden, III, 62). 


the greatest of the great. And then Austrian despotism 
put an end, for a time, to Bohemian progress. Yet pro- 
gress there appeared again in the end of the eighteenth 
century, in spite of all obstacles. It has never abated since. 
You may have heard of Bohemian music the Bohemians 
are supposed to be musically the ablest among the subjects 
of the Hapsburgs. You do not know of many first-class 
scholars whom Bohemia has produced, such as Safarik, 
Palacky, Kadlec, and others. They have been there, how- 

And Russia ? Have you read novels by Turgeniev, and 
Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy? Have you heard the names of 
Gorki and Tchekhov? Do you know the music of Tshai- 
kovsky, and Rakhmaninov, and many others? Do you 
know a scientist who needs not remember what the world 
owes to Mendeleev and Metchnikov? And these are only 
a few names which I take to be most widely known. There 
are scores upon scores of others. 

Take Poland. In the thirteenth century a Pole (Vi- 
tellio) wrote the first modern treatise on optics. The fif- 
teenth century produced a great development of the Uni- 
versity of Cracow, and one of its professors (Brudzewski) 
was the first academic teacher of astronomy to the great 
Copernicus (Kopernik), who was himself a Pole and whose 
father was a citizen of Cracow. The development of polit- 
ical thought, of letters and science, in sixteenth-century 
Poland entitled her to a place among the most enlightened 
nations in Europe; one of her political writers (Andrzej 
Frycz Modrzewski, called Modrevius) was the author of a 
great treatise on the Reform of the Republic, the German 
translation of which was the first exhaustive treatise on 
political science in that language ! Does not all that prove 
that the Poles, too, have helped develop European civil- 
ization ? 

And without mentioning the hundreds of names which, 
though great in themselves, are unknown in England and 
America, let us think of the modern Polish novelist Sien- 


kiewicz, of the pianist Paderewski, of the composers 
Chopin and Wieniawski, of the chemist Mme. Curie- 
Sklodowska. Much work done by Polish scholars, many 
works of art and literature, produced by Polish artists and 
writers, remain unknown to the west, partly because of 
language difficulties, partly because the Germans have 
taught the English and the Americans that there is no 
civilization among the Slavs. 

Consider the history of Polish political institutions. 
How much blame has been heaped on the Poles on that 
score ! Undoubtedly many things might have been better 
than they were. But the same is true of other nations. 
Hardly any European nation, except England, can boast 
of a glorious continuity of political progress. The external 
conditions were unfavorable to Polish progress in the sev- 
enteenth century and in the first part of the eighteenth, 
and yet there were many attempts at reform, attempts 
mostly frustrated by foreign intrigue, sometimes by foreign 
force. The world knows now that where there is a free 
government, agents of foreign despots can make use of 
political liberty to create mischief. That was true of Prus- 
sian and Russian agents in Poland. Yet even the old Polish 
institutions had some good sides. In 1772, just a short 
time before the first partition, Jean Jacques Rousseau, in 
response to a Polish request for suggestions as to a change 
of the Polish constitution, wrote his Considerations on the 
Government of Poland, which he prefaced with the follow- 
ing warning : " . . . Brave Poles, be careful ; be careful 
lest, wishing to be too well, you make your position worse. 
Thinking of that which you want to acquire, do not forget 
that which you can lose. Correct, if that can be, the bad 
sides of your constitution ; but do not look down upon that 
which has made you what you are. ... It is in the bosom 
of that anarchy which is hateful to you that were formed 
those patriotic minds that have kept from you the yoke. . . . 
I do not say that things should be left as they are ; but I 
do say that they must not be touched save with extreme 


circumspection. At this moment one is struck by abuses 
more than by advantages. The time will come, I am afraid, 
when one will have a better sense of these advantages, and 
unfortunately that will be when they will have been lost." 13 
The Poles realized that their constitution had to be 
changed radically. As soon as the political situation made 
it possible, a new constitution was proclaimed on May 3, 
1791. It was the time of the French Revolution. Enlight- 
ened men in the west like Burke, 14 Horace "Walpole and 
others were enthusiastic about the new constitution, which 
naturally displeased the King of Prussia and his German 
ally on the Russian throne. They procured the annihilation 
of the reform work, and carried out the second, and then 
the third partition of Poland. But the Poles have ever 
since been looking back to the tradition of the Third of 
May, with the firm conviction that the fall of Poland was 
due to brute force, and not to lack of political genius in 
the Polish nation. It took a long time before western schol- 
ars, under the influence of Germans and of charlatans like 
Thomas Carlyle, 15 acquiesced in the opinion that Poland 

13 Gouvernent de Pologne, chap. 1. That the old Polish consti- 
tution, even as it was, presented more than the aspect of a hopeless 
maze of political stupidities was understood, for instance, by an 
impartial German investigator of the old school, Hiippe (Verfassung 
der Bepublik Polen, 1867, p. viii) : ". . . The constitution of Poland 
did not show political development at its height . . . yet the federal 
framework . . . has proved an institution of lasting value (hat sich 
bewiihrt). And because the Polish state was not cut into parts by 
feudalism, it shows unexpectedly more than one modern quality. . . ." 

i* Edmund Burke wrote in 1791 about the constitutional reform 
in Poland: ". . . In contemplating that change, humanity has 
everything to rejoice and to glory in, nothing to be ashamed of, 
nothing to suffer. So far as it has gone, it probably is the most 
pure and defecated public good which ever has been conferred on 
mankind. ... To add to this happy wonder, this unheard of con- 
junction of wisdom and fortune, not one drop of blood was spilled 
. . . the whole was effected with a policy, a discretion, an unanimity 
and secrecy, such as have never been before known on any occasion , 
but such wonderful conduct was reserved for this glorious conspiracy 
in favor of the true and genuine rights and interests of men. . . ." 
(Works, IV, 190 f., 1869). 

is Carlyle 's invectives against Poland and Bohemia were based 
on complete lack of knowledge, though they pretended to be the 
result of historical research. 

was unable to govern herself. There certainly had been a 
time when Poland's political development was considered 
an inspiration for mankind. 10 

I think I am justified in claiming that despite all diffi- 
culties the Slavs have always been aiming at progress in 
civilization. You are told, and truly told, that there are, 
for instance, in Russia many persons unable to read and 
write. Do not despise the Slavs for that. Ask whether 
the Slavs have not everywhere (in Russia under the old 
bureaucracy, in Austria, in Hungary, in Prussia) striven 
to educate the poor, to organize schools and reading rooms ; 
whether that work has not been carried on often in the 
face of severe threats on the part of the government. In 
Prussia there have been until the present day innumerable 
prosecutions of Poles for "unauthorized instruction"; 
Russia under the old regime followed the example of the 
Prussian cousin. The glorious development of the "So- 
ciety of the Popular School" in Austrian Poland (T. S. L.) 
will at all times remain the boast of Polish patriots just 
because of the great popularity of the institution, its ability 
to gather enthusiastic workers among rich and poor alike, 
and the efficiency of its work. The work of Bohemian and 
Serbian organizations will similarly be remembered with 
gratitude in days to come. 

In days to come, when the Slavs will be free! There 
is a danger against w r hich I want to warn you. Germany 
and Austria-Hungary are now raising the cry for "no an- 
nexations," "no disintegration of Germany," "no parti- 
tion of Austria-Hungary." They are taking advantage of 
your lack of knowledge of European affairs to make you 
believe that England or France wants to conquer and 
oppress parts of Germany. That is absolutely untrue. 
What the Allies want is to take away from Germany and 
from the Hapsburgs those territories which the two reac : 
tionary powers have held in bondage by pure force, and 
which are alien to the Teutonic nationality. So far as the 

16 See, e.g., Letters of Horace Walpole, XIV, 446; XV, 45, 142. 

Slavs are concerned, Germany must give up her Polish 
provinces, that is, the provinces of Poznan (Posen), Silesia, 
West Prussia with the city of Gdansk, parts of East Prussia. 
Austria must give up Galicia. Prussian and Austrian 
Poland will thus be united with Russian Poland and form 
that " united, independent, and autonomous Poland" prom- 
ised by President Wilson. Bohemia, including Moravia, 
and other parts of Austria or Hungary inhabited by Bo- 
hemians (and Slovaks), must be made independent. Bosnia 
and Herzegovina, Crotia and Slavonia, and the other south- 
ern Slav parts of Austria or Hungary must be set free to 
form part of the great southern Slav state. The Slavs do 
not want to form great conquering empires. They want 
to be allowed complete freedom in developing their own 
national life, together with other civilized nations. The 
days of autocracies, the days of governments formed and 
maintained by dynasties and in the interest of dynasties, 
are over. 

I should like to appeal to you to get acquainted with 
the problems of Slav life. You will find a great field for 
help which will be very gratefully received. You will find 
probably many things that will require change, but I feel 
that you will also find a great many things worth ap- 

Let me conclude by quoting the words of my great 
teacher, Professor Vinogradoff, a Russian who is today the 
greatest living authority on English legal history. He is 
one of those men who have proved to the world that the 
Slavs can help promote civilization. "The Slavs must 
have their chance in the history of the world, and the date 
of their coming of age will mark a new departure in the 
growth of civilization." 






NOV 81962 


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